Bedfordshire farmer Peter Kendall has ousted Tim Bennett as NFU president, after pledging to modernise the union and champion the farming industry.
Mr Kendall, an arable farmer from Eyeworth, beat Mr Bennett by 55 votes to 31 – the first time in recent history that a sitting president has been voted out of office.
The other challenger, Farmers for Action chairman David Handley, polled just two votes from the 88-strong NFU council.
Pembrokeshire farmer Meurig Raymond was promoted to the position of deputy president and Driffield producer Paul Temple was elected vice-president.
Mr Raymond beat Somerset farmer Derek Mead 82-5, while Mr Temple defeated dairy board chairman Gwyn Jones 53-34.
Speaking to journalists after the election, Mr Kendall said he had thought long and hard before standing for the presidency.
But the state of the industry and strong calls from council members for a higher profile championing of agriculture had persuaded him.
“I’m very flattered, and humbled, by the fact that council voted so strongly in my favour,” he said.
There were a number of key priorities facing the new leadership he added, including addressing the distortions affecting British agriculture.
While the industry had the ability to compete, he was concerned by the distortions in the food chain, within the CAP and within the EU budget.
He also promised a unified industry leadership, representing the different sectors of farming.
Reacting to the election result, council member and Essex farmer Guy Smith said the NFU could make a new start.
“We have broken the mould of the old NFU and now have a more free-thinking leadership, less constrained by protocol,” he told Farmers Weekly.
“With Paul Temple as vice president, we have a more youthful team to take the union forward.”
Cumbria farmer Peter Allen said the new team was a strong one, although he had wanted to give Mr Bennett more time after only two years in the role.
“Tim has been a tremendous servant to the NFU since he started.
The union owes him and his family a great deal of gratitude for the time he has put in.”